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ISSUE 121 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/9/2007

A Word from Our Editors: Downtime

By Peter Farrell
Executive Editor


Friday, November 9, 2007

A little less than two weeks ago, I took a nasty tumble. Instead of wasting my Friday afternoon with my usual nap, I decided to join a few of my pod-mates for a pick-up basketball game. In the midst of this intense athletic endeavor - most of my pod-mates are not renowned for the physical prowness - I made a heroic misjudgment. Leaping for the ball, I knocked it away from my opponent, but I also knocked myself into an awkward position and smacked the concrete with considerable momentum. My left elbow broke my fall.

Two surgeries later, much of what now constitutes my elbow can be purchased at Home Depot. My fall resulted in a dislocation and three separate fractures. To put Humpty Dumpty back together, the surgeons needed two metal plates, a pin, a hinge and a couple of screws. There's also a small drill-bit floating around in there; the surgeon accidently dropped it during the operation.

The severity of this injury has forced me to slow down. I'm hand-writing my articles and papers now; I'm taking showers with a plastic bag duct-taped to my arm. Some of the big plans I had for this semester are being put on the back-burner. Needlees to say, the situation is less that ideal.

But on the plus side, this injury has compelled me to take a critical look at my life, especially the ambiguity of my last year on the Hill. As seniors, we're catapulting into another great transitional phase, only this time we're leaping across the boundary that separates college and "life" instead of "school" and "school without parents."

Four years ago, the prospect of venturing into the wilderness of higher-education might have been frightening, but it was also a pretty safe bet. Our culture continually reinforces the notion that these are the "best" years of our life and, honestly, college is a sweet deal. You're independent. You get to delve deeply into subjects that interest you and have informed conversations with academic professionals and your peers. You're in close proximity to members of the opposite (or same) sex. No parents, no rules, party all the time indeed.

But this next leap we're supposed to make into the "real" world is a riskier proposition - a positive outcome is much less assured. Week after week, I see my peers pouring over graduate exam prep books, hammering out seminar papers while many are beginning the long, arduous process of filling out job applications. The stakes in this transition seem higher, and it's hard to focus on the present when the pressure of the future is consistently weighing in the background.

But it's worth slowing down once in a while this semester. This isn't an earth-shattering revelation exactly, but being cooped up in the Twin Cities for nine days really drove the point home. Next winter, the majority of us will not be returning to Northfield, and the broad cross-section of friends and acquaintances we've made over the past few years will scatter. So the next time you're collapsing in stress and day-dreaming about the future, take the opportunity to enjoy the clarity of the next seven months of our life. We're here on the Hill, now. Veg out and enjoy it.

You only get one chance.





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